Sunday, 20 August 2017

Mixed feelings - Seattle trip Feb 2017

6 months ago (20th Feb 2017) Ruby’s funeral was held at Immaculate Conception church in Seattle (a couple of blocks from her parent’s house). Ruby expressed very clear wishes on a number of things to happen after she died. She wanted her funeral to be in Seattle, for her to be cremated, the ashes to be scattered in Puget Sound near Alki beach and for a group of friends and family to go to Seattle for the funeral and to see where she grew up.

Ten of us travelled to Seattle from Australia - some on their first trip to the USA. We were in Seattle for just 6 days. I was particularly stressed on the way over as I felt somewhat responsible for everyone and was worried about the funeral (doing a eulogy and how the day would run). While we did get a good deal on the flights (considering the short notice), we did miss the connecting flight from LAX to Seattle as LAX was very busy (didn’t realise it was Presidents Day weekend). Fortunately we all managed to get on the next flight to Seattle.

Everything worked on the day of the funeral. Ruby’s song she wanted played worked even though it was just my iPhone speaker into a microphone. The eulogy went well and I got to meet some of Ruby’s school friends. I did manage to spill part of lunch on myself when helping clean up and was almost left behind when heading off to scatter the ashes (there were three cars of us to organise).

Ruby had indicated where exactly she wanted the ashes scattered from, but when Ruby’s brother and I investigated the spot, it was going to be hard to actually scatter the ashes in the water. Fortunately we found a better spot just around the corner. The scattering went very well (glad I read up on it before trying) and also scattering some of flowers from the funeral made it more special. The picture of my boys looking out to sea watching the ashes float away is both gut-wrenching and beautiful at the same time. 

 Seattle Feb 2017

The next couple of days we saw the sights of Seattle. Had coffee. Went to the Space Needle, Pike Place and the Museum of Flight (where the boys had a fantastic couple of hours). Found some great places to eat. I now know some new places to get coffee that are in short walking distance to Ruby’s parent’s house: Peloton and Cherry St Coffee (at 12th and James). And a great chicken wings and waffles place...
I tweeted this just when we were just about to leave Seattle. It describes my mood at the end of the trip perfectly. Having (finally!) organised all the photos (thanks to everyone who sent me pictures in the last couple of months) I was able to relive this trip - and hence the blog post. So while I still have mixed feelings about the trip I definitely have some good memories and I don't feel like I left Ruby there - she came back with us too.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Ruby’s Star and RubyNanomed

In March a group of Ruby’s Facebook friends got together and gave me and the boys a gift to name a star after Ruby. At first I really wasn’t ready to sort this out, but last week I decided to fill in the forms (by email - which made it easier). I chose to have a star selected in the Phoenix constellation and backdated to the day she died.

Today sent me a package with location of her star and a certificate. For more details see the International Star Registry page for Ruby.

This is awesome. And perfect too - as Ruby's last name Estrella means star in Spanish. The certificate is great too, very much in Ruby's style.

I also found out that another Ruby's Facebook friends who works in cancer research has named a cancer detector tool/method after her: RubyNanomed. This is also awesome! More details here (translated from Portuguese).

I think both these are super awesome and a great way to remember Ruby.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Dreaming it all up again

6 months ago my wife Ruby died due to stage 4 cancer - I originally posted this on Facebook 36 hours after she died. The last line I wrote was that I “need to go away and dream it all up again”. That was partly a reference to something Bono said on 30th Dec 1989 (U2 being at the end of an era - in the end reinventing themselves in the 90s) and partly something I felt that I really needed to do after losing someone I had shared my hopes and dreams with for nearly half my life.

The last 6 months have been very busy, dealing with everything and the loss of Ruby, but about a month ago I started thinking about those words on one of my work trips to Melbourne. I realised didn’t need to find a new dream or reinvent myself like U2 did. Instead “dreaming it all up again” was about how I move forward and how I function each day in what is now a new era in my life. 

And here it is: I need to be happy being me.

Am I happy being me? Being brutally honest - only sort of. Part of this is I think I need to be a better me - Ben version 4 if you will. Basically I want to be happy with my choices, being the best father and role model for my boys, being more decisive and not regretting or wasting any moment of my life.

I'm not saying I am starting this today as it is the 6 month anniversary of Ruby's death. Part of my thinking in the last month is that I have actually already started this. The work has begun, but is not yet finished…

I did want to do/start something at the 6 month point - which is restarting this blog (after nearly 5 years of silence) and posting regularly. Why restart the blog? Partly as I want to share what is going on with me and the boys (that doesn’t fit in 140 characters), partly to say the things I can’t say in person (yet) and mainly just because I bloody-well want to.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Sad news about Ruby

This was originally posted on Facebook on Sunday 5th February 2017 - Ruby died on the previous Friday night. Re-reading it 6 months later I think I what I wrote was good (all things considered) and after decided to restart my blog didn't want this buried/lost in a Facebook feed so I copied this verbatim to this post (I was able to put the date as the date I posted on Facebook).

My beautiful wife Ruby Estrella passed away on Friday night. She was surrounded by family and friends and we had time to have a chat and say our goodbyes. 
Ruby was diagnosed with cancer over 18 months ago. It was a rare form of cancer called unknown primary (meaning it had already spread to other organs, but the main cancer cannot be found). She did well with a number of chemo treatments and while we were always hopeful each one would work, we knew it was only a matter of time before the cancer would spread faster than the chemo could stop it. 

The cancer in her liver started growing faster in January and last week she was admitted to hospital. Fortunately her parents, brother Elvin Estrella and many others were able to get here in time and say goodbye. She died peacefully and was at peace with what was happening (she told many people not to be sad and that she had had a good life). 
So please don't be too sad for too long. Ruby would want you to celebrate her life and the good things in it. 
I knew Ruby for over half my lifetime and while I will always want more time I was super lucky this wonderful lady was with me for as long as she was. She also gave me two wonderful boys, a taste for travel and introduced me to her favourite bands (Depeche Mode and New Order). 
I will be ok. I am getting great support from family and friends. However, right now I am devastated by this. I need to go away and dream it all up again.